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speaker wire - differences

Old 04-29-03, 10:16 PM
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Nice to see a topic on speaker wire gauge.

I'm going to need no more than 75-100 ft. to wire my (soon to be acquired) Energy Take 5.2 system in my small 12'x13' spare bedroom. I bought a roll of 18 gauge speaker cable (RCA brand I think) for less than $15.


Is this a good gauge to go with, or will I get improved performance with 12 or 14 gauge? I honestly have no idea how thick I should get them. Also, if I get it cheap at Home Depot, what else would I need to make my own speaker cables? Will I need any tools to attach the connectors?


BTW, my receiver is an Onkyo TX-SR600.
Old 04-30-03, 08:23 AM
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Here's a link to a wire gauge table. Unfortunately, it looks like it started as European, used "," as a decimal separator and was partially editted.
http://ohm.bu.edu/edf/info/wire-resistance.html

If you read my earlier post in this thread, the total wire resistance should at least be less than 1/40 of speaker's impedance. Lets assume you have 8 ohm speakers. 1/40 is 0.2 ohms, or 0.1 ohm per wire (100 milliohms). 18AWG is 6.6 milliohms per foot. If your run is less than 15' even 18AWG is OK, If you use the more stringent 1/100, then 6' is OK. Going below 1/100 is a real waste of money in my opinion. If you go to 12 AWG, at 1.7 milliohms per foot, then you can use runs 3.9 X longer and get same resistance. The correct wire gauge is a function of speaker impedance, desired damping ratio, and length of run to each speaker. Backs may require longer runs, and a smaller numeric (larger diameter) wire gauge.

I don't know what connectors you need so I have no answer on tools. Most need a spade or ring terminal added, you can get either crimp or solderable. I never have good luck crimping connectors on stranded wire and always solder.
Old 04-30-03, 11:50 AM
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bfrank,

When your company was showing off its $20k/pair speakers at one of the electronics show (CES? I forget.), what interconnects did you guys use: amp to speaker, source to amp, etc? I'm not trying to make a point or anything here. Just curious, that's all.
Old 05-01-03, 09:20 AM
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40 k/pair (may need to move to ~$45k)

We used custom TAD highend speaker wire and interconnects (made in the same factory as many others). The system was bi-wired also.

This is the kind of system that you might be able hear the difference in wire, amps and source. This is the best speaker system ever made"." We were using over $100k in equipment with this system. PR is very important when showing a system like this .

Again things like room position, seating position, amplifier, souce and even interconnects all are way higher in the scale of areas that impact the sound. The wire would be last on my list and first place to save money.
Old 05-03-03, 10:05 PM
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Personally, I use 12 gauge Carol speaker wire that I can get at Home Depot for 47 cents a foot. It is really nice, heavily insulated wire that has performed very well for me. I am not a fan of Monster Cable because I think it's over priced....no doubt they make a decent product, but alot of the money you pay is for the marketing they do. There are lots of good cables out there for less money. I've had very good sucess with alot of the heavy duty gold cables put out by Radio Shack. AR also makes some nice reasonably priced cable.

I would say....match your wire to your equipment. If you have high end THX Certified Equipment....get the high end THX cable. If you have an HT in a box....no need to go crazy on cable.

Good cable IS important, but IMO the law of diminishing returns sets in after a point.

My 2 cents...

VTS
Old 05-04-03, 09:49 AM
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Originally posted by bfrank
40 k/pair (may need to move to ~$45k)

We used custom TAD highend speaker wire and interconnects (made in the same factory as many others). The system was bi-wired also.

This is the kind of system that you might be able hear the difference in wire, amps and source. This is the best speaker system ever made"." We were using over $100k in equipment with this system. PR is very important when showing a system like this .

Again things like room position, seating position, amplifier, souce and even interconnects all are way higher in the scale of areas that impact the sound. The wire would be last on my list and first place to save money.
Since wire makes no difference, why didn't you just use some Radio Shack wire, or zip cord?
Nobdy would know the difference, right?
Old 05-05-03, 11:11 AM
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Never said "wire makes no difference".

I guess a good way to explan is look at what do manufactures use inside speakers? Wire engineered to do the job. Does it have a brand name? If it does is it marketing or engineering.
Old 05-06-03, 10:21 AM
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Originally posted by bfrank
Never said "wire makes no difference".

I guess a good way to explan is look at what do manufactures use inside speakers? Wire engineered to do the job. Does it have a brand name? If it does is it marketing or engineering.
*SIGH*
C'mon bfrank, you do have a sense of humor somewhere in there, right? Sarcasm is apparently a lost art these days.
My bad.

And as far as what wire is used inside speakers, I have replaced internal factory wiring in some subs before due to cheap wire use, but it's been a long time ago.

Cheers,
Erik the red
Old 05-07-03, 09:49 AM
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Sorry

We use wire designed for the application. The point being that there is exual quality cable at much lower prices then branded cable.
Old 05-07-03, 04:49 PM
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Originally posted by bfrank


Sorry

We use wire designed for the application. The point being that there is exual quality cable at much lower prices then branded cable.
Agreed, there is always something cheaper.
Then again, there are those of us who aren't bargain hunters and aren't looking to scrounge for savings on wire/interconnects, etc.
For the life of me, I can't figure out why everyone gets so upset about the cost of certain brands. Personally, I like rugged build quality and an attractive appearance in my wire, and I'm willing to pay for it.
Placebo? Perhaps.
Are my ears happy? Yep.
Is my dealer happy when I make return trips to his shop for wire? Yep.

What's the chaos?

Buy what you want, and don't tell me what is better for my system

Cheers,
Erik the Red
Old 05-08-03, 09:30 AM
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I guess it is the Bose thing.
Old 05-08-03, 10:53 AM
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Originally posted by bfrank
I guess it is the Bose thing.
Bose has absolutely nothing to do with it.
Marketing genius aside, there are some things (actually, a lot of things) a Bose system CAN'T do (accurate sound reproduction at reference levels, for one). Some people like Bose, some don't.

Comparing underachieving, overpriced speakers to...wait a minute...what are you comparing them to?

I thought this was a discussion about wire.
Old 05-08-03, 11:09 AM
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Originally posted by DVD_O_Rama
Bose has absolutely nothing to do with it.
I disagree. You said:
Placebo? Perhaps.
Are my ears happy? Yep.
Is my dealer happy when I make return trips to his shop for wire? Yep.
You acknowledged that your happiness might be a placebo effect, which is why Bfrank referenced Bose... Bose owners often experience that same happiness.
Old 05-08-03, 05:23 PM
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Its even clearer to me with wire. The science is fixed with wire. With Bose different people like different balance. The Bose reference is more about the market price / manufacturing cost for a given product.

The point I am trying to make in this thread is there is wire exual to branded highend cable that will perform exactly the same and in some cases is made in the exact same factory. This wire can be purchased for fractions of the cost.

Does highend branded wire sound better then non-branded wire of the same spec? This is my point.
Old 05-08-03, 05:33 PM
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So, bfrank, by your rationale, every single piece of wire sounds exactly the same on every system then?

Correct me if I'm wrong, but your claim that the raw wire in different companies finished product is made in the same factory (and I am in 100% agreement there), so therefore the end result will all be sonically exact?

I guess you are disregarding, termination build/type/quality, shielding, insulation, length, et al. in your assesment?

So, you are basically saying every single company not charging the same amount for wire as...oh let's say Radio Shack is robbing their customers and overcharging?
Old 05-08-03, 06:30 PM
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I don't know how bfrank would answer, but my answer is basically, yeah.

Lets stick to speaker wire and not get into coax cables and things. Lets assume "zip cord" construction, ie two parallel wires, pretty close together. If they are of the same wire gauge, I doubt you can tell them apart in double blind ABX testing.

Speaker wire is not shielded, and insulation isn't real big factor unless it ages poorly and cracks from either heat or sunlight. I'm sure there are brands that bad, but any reasonable quality will be fine.

In real estate, they say it is location, location, location. In speaker wire, it is gauge, gauge, gauge, then maybe polarity indication to tell wires apart, insulation quality, and terminations if any. (Stripped wire under binding post works well, and is very inexpensive.)

If you think your cables are attractive, that's fine. Mine are ugly, cheap, out of sight, and work equally well. All that really matters is whether you have reached point of diminished returns on improving damping ratio.
Old 05-08-03, 09:26 PM
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Originally posted by OldDude
Lets stick to speaker wire and not get into coax cables and things. Lets assume "zip cord" construction, ie two parallel wires, pretty close together. If they are of the same wire gauge, I doubt you can tell them apart in double blind ABX testing.


I've never participated in a double-blind test before, and have no need to. The thought of anyone telling me what I can't hear is absurd, and doesn't merit my time to prove to them otherwise. Considering that my mains in my HT (not the 2-channel set-up) are bi-wired, I can't really say that I can relate to the two paralell pieces of zip cord you describe. I do find it humorous that you can tell me what I can't tell the difference in, though. Thanks


If you think your cables are attractive, that's fine. Mine are ugly, cheap, out of sight, and work equally well. All that really matters is whether you have reached point of diminished returns on improving damping ratio.


Appearance is not the main selling point in anying I purchase. That being said, did I bring home the zip cord as part of my audition for speaker wire? No. (considering they are digital, zip cord wasn't an option) Did I pay more then you did for your wire? I would bet the farm on it. But...does yours sound better to you? Guess what, I don't have your ears and I'm not the type to tell someone else what they can or can't hear

(I'll give you a hint though...my money is on my Meridians)
Old 05-08-03, 10:21 PM
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Originally posted by DVD_O_Rama
[BI've never participated in a double-blind test before, and have no need to. The thought of anyone telling me what I can't hear is absurd, and doesn't merit my time to prove to them otherwise. Considering that my mains in my HT (not the 2-channel set-up) are bi-wired, I can't really say that I can relate to the two paralell pieces of zip cord you describe. I do find it humorous that you can tell me what I can't tell the difference in, though. Thanks
[/B]
I didn't say you can't hear the difference, I said I doubt you can; only double blind ABX can establish that one way or the other. Of course if everyone knows what is being used, they can incorporate their biases in the result. Double blind ABX testing is the only way to prove real auditory difference. I find it humorous that you are so sure the brand of wire you paid a lot for is so obviously superior that comparison testing is unwarranted. As long as you are happy with it, fine.

You might try biamping instead of biwire.
Old 05-09-03, 03:07 PM
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Originally posted by OldDude
I didn't say you can't hear the difference, I said I doubt you can; only double blind ABX can establish that one way or the other. Of course if everyone knows what is being used, they can incorporate their biases in the result. Double blind ABX testing is the only way to prove real auditory difference. I find it humorous that you are so sure the brand of wire you paid a lot for is so obviously superior that comparison testing is unwarranted. As long as you are happy with it, fine.

You might try biamping instead of biwire.
I never said I didn't compare. Every single piece of gear (including cables and wire) in my home was auditioned with my other equipment befopre I decided to use it long-term.
Actually I tried about six different brands/models before I settled on the Transparent Audio cables I use now. I've never used zip cord or similar type wire in my comparisons.

And I am a fan of bi-amping btw, I just choose to not mix amps, and the cost of buying new matched amps for that purpose aren't in the cards right now (and since my speakers are actually tri-wireable, the cost would be obviously additional)
Old 05-12-03, 10:13 AM
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Quickly- No I would not say that at all. What I said is for a given "spec" they are the same.

The science is fixed on this topic. If they measure the same there is no way anyone could hear the differenece of wire (where all other factors are exual.

Side note, I also felt this way abotu double blind testing until I was put through it. I had to repeat a test three days in a row. The first day one of the three clearly was better. On the next day there was no clear difference. Nothing changed in the set up so why the difference in what I was hearing?

I suggest reading Floyd Toole's work on this subject. It is actually interesting.
Old 05-14-03, 10:45 AM
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Originally posted by bfrank
Quickly- No I would not say that at all. What I said is for a given "spec" they are the same.

The science is fixed on this topic. If they measure the same there is no way anyone could hear the differenece of wire (where all other factors are exual.


Again, you are eliminating other factors such as termintation, shielding, insulation, etc. And in my opinion, you are eliminatiing interaction with hardware, which is a huge difference. Are you going to say that amps and/or processors don't color sound quality either? Measure all you want; my ears aren't o-scopes, and I don't need to see wave forms to hear a difference. I'd rather rely on what I hear then a piece of hardware (YMMV, of course). Maybe I am misreading your posts, but you are saying if 2 pieces of of wire measures the same, then they are sonically identical. If that's the case, every single manufacturer is ripping off consumers, and lying to them by saying their cables sound different. Correct?
Then Radio Shack speaker wire sounds identical to I dunno...Kimber Cable select speaker wire?

Side note, I also felt this way abotu double blind testing until I was put through it. I had to repeat a test three days in a row. The first day one of the three clearly was better. On the next day there was no clear difference. Nothing changed in the set up so why the difference in what I was hearing?

Again, I can't tell you what you can and can't hear.


I suggest reading Floyd Toole's work on this subject. It is actually interesting.

I've quite familiar with Floyd's work, and he is obviously well-respected in the audio community (with good reason).
Anything in particular you want me to re-read, or send you a copy of, perhaps?

Not trying to sound confrontational at all, and I love a good debate.
Regardless, I think we have all agreed that you should buy what you want, which is the bottom line.

Cheers,
Erik the Red
Old 05-14-03, 12:13 PM
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Floyd is best know for explaining why we cant trust our perceptions of listening unless all factors are contolled. The psycology is a way bigger larger factor then most believe. With his meathods this debate is moot because it removes personal views and perceptions. I was lucky enough to work with Floyd and to be put through his listening tests. I assure you it was an eye opener to these kind of topics.

I dont know if the papers are online but his two most famous papers were published by the AES.

Is I explained earlier in this post, the system has in impact on what wire spec is needed. I am only talking wire in this thread.

Yes I am saying the two wires that measure the same will sound the same.

Let me ask you how "highend brand x" designs their wire and then how it inspects incoming shipments? If the supplier meets the spec is the wire of equal quality?

The science is fixed outside of that it is all marketing. However, this is not discounting the science factors as I have pointed out a few times.
Old 05-14-03, 12:57 PM
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I think this is the article that bfrank is referring to ...

Speaker Design: Audio-Art and Science by Flyod E. Toole, Ph.D.

This paper reviews scientific work performed by dr. Floyd Toole and his colleagues, that aimed to determine the extent to which listeners agreed on their preferences in sound quality and, beyond that to identify relationships between listener preferences and meaureable performance perameters of loudspeakers.
(131K PDF)
The blind-test concept is further discussed in specific details concering HK blind-testing room called the Multichannel Listening Lab (MLL) in this on-line article OBJECTIVE SUBJECTIVITY by Scott Wilkinson for Electronic Musician, Jul 1, 2001.

Back on the topic of wires, I fully agree w/bfrank which is also based on various articles published by Stereo Review (now Sound&Vision) Magazine, specifically June 1998 Stereo Review "To tweak, or not to tweak?" by Tom Nousaine:

=====(partial excerpts)
So far, no one has ever demonstrated scientifically that any single amplifier or cable -- unless it's broken or exhibits a nonlinear frequency response -- has the slightest effect on sound quality. No one. Never. The results I've gotten have been duplicated time and again by colleagues such as David Clark, Brad Meyer, and Ken Pohlmann in their own tests for Stereo Review and other publications."

. . . . "So what does all this mean? Well, from past research we know that amplifiers, cables, CD players that have flat frequency responses and are operating within their intended limits sound the same when they are compared head to head. Now we also know that inserting a series of typical "tweaks" in a system of high-quality audio components does not make it sound different from a modest untweaked system."

"Does this mean that buying a highend amplifier or using expensive cable is crazy? Of course not. After all, many people revel in owning a Rolls-Royce even though there are much better performing cars on the road. We are all free to use whatever equipment we want for whatever reason."
But I can also see the reason behind ...

...speaker vs. wire $$ % vs. brand-name vs. precieved hearing differences, ...

... but for the non-critical joe-6-pack consumer, using 18-16 GA (up to 50') polarized zip cord wire will serve his non-critical listening Audio/Video purposes.

Phil
Old 05-14-03, 01:46 PM
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WOW - you really know your stuff

Thats not the exact white paper but it is excellent and explains my view perfectly. Anyone that is interested should take the time to read this paper.
Old 05-14-03, 04:39 PM
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Originally posted by bfrank
WOW - you really know your stuff

Thats not the exact white paper but it is excellent and explains my view perfectly. Anyone that is interested should take the time to read this paper.
Sorry I didn't cut and paste a link to any of Toole's papers that were online. Maybe I would have gotten a WOW too if I did? Anyhoo, It's great that the info is online, as I wasn't aware it was. More people should take a close look at his work, as his insight is quite interesting into the subject at hand.

THAT BEING SAID...if Floyd toole told me that the earth was flat would I believe him? No. I know otherwise.

And as I have said many, many times I have no need for a double blind test for the wire in my system. When choosing my speaker wire I did compare different brands, and chose what was best to my ears. I had no objective or hidden agenda. I tried many different brands and had no preference over one to another, I just wanted quality. I didn't use zip cord in my comparisons. Would it sound better then what I have now? Well, let's just say I would bet a resounding no, across the board. Could I be wrong? Absolutely. Wouldn't be the first time, and I'm sure it wouldn't be the last. I have nothing against blind testing. if you feel the need to do so, fine, but don't tell me I need to.

But again, the 'science is fact' rhetoric is getting old. You claim wire is wire (please don't keep denying that, you've made it clear you think it is) but then you also say that only in regard to speaker wire. So...interconnects are different then? Is there not wire in them, as well?

You kep talking about raw wire, when we both know packaged speaker wire is not raw wire. There are many variations and designs, terminations, insulation, et al. I feel like a broken record here.

If the engine in a Yugo and a BMW have the same spec they are the same quality car then, right?

Regardless of that...tell me honestly Brian, what speaker wire do you have on your speakers right now, and what are you planning on using with the TADs? Radio Shack?

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